Wow! This is my 500th Post!

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I love the beautiful trees!
How did that happen? I started writing this blog March of 2012. This realization prompted me to reminisce about how I got started with this ‘blogging’ thing… I remember when we were in the research process of our big relocation, Scott was our main researcher. He is sooooooo good at searching online and finding all sorts of information. He found reading forums to be one of his favorite means of finding interesting and relevant information. He found many such expat forums online, including “Panama Laws for expats” “Panama expats” “Expats in David” and lots of other forums in other countries we were also, at that time, researching. I was never especially fond of forums because they have a tendency to , at times, be a little argumentative and petty. to put it nicely…Yuck! So I discovered Blogs! And I fell in love with reading these peoples personal stories of expatriating to countless different places around the world. Reading blogs just felt so much more personal which is right up my isle! I just love reading stories about peoples lives and that’s exactly what blogs are. I remember when this online “blogging “ thing first started. I never really understood what it meant to ‘blog’…kinda like public journaling? Huh? Why would anyone want to put all that personal information out there for the whole world to read? Who cares anyways? Hah!

Well, it turns out, reading blogs is really great! I especially love the way that you can send private messages to the bloggers. And they almost always got back to me. This created a kind of connection which I find very appealing . I like nothing more than to get to know people and find some way to connect. This is one of the aspects of my job that I always found the most rewarding. After spending a ton of time reading and following these blogger expats I remember thinking to myself…”hey, I could do this!”. As much as I was enjoying reading all these blogs there was just something missing from all I was reading. It seemed like most bloggers got started ‘after’ they made their move to their new country. I didn’t find any blogs that started ‘before’ they left for their big adventure. I was so curious about the ‘whys’ and the ‘hows’ of the process of expatriating . But most of the blogs I was reading began after they had moved to their new country. So, I thought I would give it a try and begin ‘before’ my move.

I’ve learned so much about blogging since I dove in. One thing I’ve come to realize is just how therapeutic my blog has been for me. I often begin writing and as the words flow onto the computer screen I feel myself often sorting through or processing certain difficult aspects of my new life. And then the comments start to pour in….I love my readers so much! I get an amazing amount of support and every time I publish a post I look forward to what comments will arrive. But of course there are some hard things about blogging that aren’t always so enjoyable but that have really helped me to learn a lot! Its often hard to know just how much you don’t know until you start to learn some things the hard way. Like, for instance, some people don’t want to be talked about or included in any way in my blog! Whodathunk? It just never occurred to me when I was a new blogger, that some people are very private and have no interest in being in such a public forum for all to see. I learned this one the hard way with some very good friends who I published photos of on my blog without asking their permission first. Boy, was I blown away that I had been so clueless! From this terrible mistake I learned really fast how to edit a post and I immediately took out any mention of them and also removed any photos I had included in my blog of them. I felt terrible. And apologized profusely for my lack of consideration. Still, when I think about that I feel so shocked at my total ignorance about other peoples privacy. Of course not everyone wants to be out there for all the world to see! Sheeesh Holly! :0 Thank goodness they were really good friends who know me well and understood my lack of knowledge about all things tech! ….And then there’s the lesson I learned about being very careful when I publish information as ‘fact’. There’s always someone out there who wants to make sure to point out just how ‘wrong’ you are! So, I try really hard these days to only publish things that I know for sure are facts, it’s usually best to stick with my own personal experiences. And then there’s the mean people out there who hide behind their computers and send ugly, mean comments about a post. Yikes! I was verbally attacked once by a really mean , negative person who just shocked me by her anger at a post I published. I learned how to block people like that. And I learned that I have a lot of really protective blogging friends and readers out there who stood up for me and reassured me that I had not published anything that warranted the negativity. They told me that they too had experienced similar things in their past and that I should just let it go and develop a thick skin. And that brings me to the friendships I’ve formed through blogging.

Probably one of the aspects of blogging that has been the most pleasant surprise and the most rewarding is the many great friends I’ve made from blogging! Some of the first people I met when I moved to Panamá have been other bloggers. My friends Valerie and Mark, Kris & Joel, Emma, Karen, Debbie,Cindy, Allison,Andrea….so many amazing friendships have come out of blogging. Many of these people I began chatting with through my blog before I even moved and have since met nearly all of them. With the exception of Debbie who lives in Nicaragua, but we occasionally chat online and feel like we already know each other. I gotta get out there one of these days. We bloggers have a natural connection from our shared experiences and desires to share our stories. I never expected to meet so many interesting people just from writing a blog. Not only other bloggers either…I get the opportunity to meet with many of my readers when they come visit Boquete. We love to’ Pay it forward’ with others who are on a similar journey to find their new Adventure. When we were looking around and visiting different locations we met so many wonderful people who had gone before us and made the leap to live abroad. Every expat we met made us feel so welcomed and shared unending amounts of really important information with us about life here . So we really like doing the same thing whenever we can. And we end up making so many great friends from meeting up with my blog followers. It’s been another surprising outcome of sharing my story.

One big discovery I made from writing a blog is that I really LOVE writing! I’m not exceptionally good at writing, I’m not a ‘writer’ after all , but I sure do enjoy expressing myself in the written word. I’ve always been a fan of reading and find that authors are my superheros! I’ve never been one to be star-struck by celebrities but on the rare occasion that I’ve gotten to meet an Author who I like..oh my goodness! I suddenly become star struck! I’m incredibly impressed by people who have the ability to touch others with their talent for words. So when I have the time to just sit and write for hours on end I’ve had a good day. Time just flies by so fast when I’m writing and writing a blog is so fun because , like I said, all the feedback you get from the readers, its just great! I love the comments! Its so fun to hear peoples opinions of what I’ve shared and to know what others think of a post I publish. Well…at least it’s fun when they’re nice! hah! One guy told me he wanted his wasted time back after having read one of my blog posts! Hah! Pffffffft! That one made me chuckle! He actually took the time to let me know how boring my post was and how he wished he hadn’t wasted his time reading it…eye roll! As though someone tied him down and forced him to READ!!! People can be funny! You really do put yourself out there in a pretty vulnerable place by publishing your words online. It sometimes takes courage to share your experiences the way that we do as bloggers. But, like anything worth doing, you just gotta take the good with the bad.

One of the main reasons in the very beginning that I decided to start sharing my story in the form of a blog was to maintain some small connection to all my friends and family in California. In the beginning it was also my way of helping everyone understand why we were setting out on this crazy new life in Panama and leaving them all behind. I was able to share our decision process, tell all about all the research we did and explain what prompted our decision in the first place. I think it was a big help for us and made our move seem a little less of a crazy decision when all our friends could have a peak into our heads. I get lots of wonderful feedback from many of my friends back home. The only bummer is that it’s such a one sided connection. They all know in great detail just what we’re up to, but I don’t really get to know who is keeping up with us and what all of them are up to. That, I must say , is the part of blogging that is the hardest. The fact that it’s so darn one-sided. But, thats the way it goes, can’t change that. It’s not like all my friends and family are going to sit down and write me my own personal blogs about whats going on in their lives! Hah!

There’s is a huge world of bloggers out there these days. People who, like me have found some kind of satisfaction in sharing their lives. My story isnt so terribly unique or exciting , but it’s mine. I’m really surprised to realize that this is my 500th post! Since beginning to publish this blog I’ve learned so much about myself and about writing in general. I plan to continue to write and to share my experiences of living in Panama and starting a new life with my husband. But, at times I’m finding that I don’t always have as much to write about as I did in the beginning. I’ve said this before and its very true, our life has begun to fall into a rhythm that doesn’t always feel so exciting or even sometimes worth writing about. But it seems, every time I publish a post, no matter how ‘boring’ it may seem to me, some kind person sends me a comment letting me know that they appreciate something I’ve shared. So, oftentimes that keeps me motivated to write more. Who knows how long I’ll continue to write and to share my life. But, for now writing is something I’m finding endless enjoyment from , so I’ll just see if I get to 1000 posts!! Hah!

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About hollycarter184

Life is Good! But it's time for a change, and more adventure! I'd like to share the whole experience of preparing then actually making a reality of expatriating, and moving to a new country. It's an exciting, and slightly scary move full of possibility . I'm looking forward to learning a new language and making new connections with the people who share our spirit of adventure. This blog is my way of continuing my connection with my friends and family in the States. Sooooo here it goes! :)

16 responses »

  1. I LOVE your blog! We are leaving Seattle this afternoon for LAX, then on to P.C. tomorrow morning. We will soon get to experience, first hand, the wonderful place ourselves.

  2. Just want to say Thank You for all the information (and entertainment also) you have given us via your blog. I began reading shortly before you moved to Panama and then went back to the beginning of your blog. So count me among the many who have followed all 500. I admire all the positive effort you have invested in your adventure. Clearly you are continuing to reap the rewards of that effort. Let the Adventure Continue!

  3. I love meeting other bloggers, too, Holly, but you and Scott are the best! So warm and inviting!! Out of curiousity, I checked my blog. 230 posts in 2 1/2 years. I mostly started the blog as a research journal, and now it is for those here in my life in the States that want to keep up about Panama and read about some of the crazy antics that go on there! And see the places we have traveled to, etc. It is something when people don’t want to be mentioned or have pictures posted, and then there are others that don’t want anyone to know they are on a trip or doing something fabulous (on facebook). They don’t want to be tagged or “checked in” with me. Privacy is to each his own, I suppose. While I haven’t had rude comments, I have had remarks I have had to delete on face book (one specifically in regard to when I posted a picture of turtle eggs in Cambutal). And others comment that if it isn’t Panama related, and just a journal, why bother writing?

    Like you, I write it as a journal. And if someone can pull out information from it, great! And when I meet fellow bloggers, even better! Keep writing, posting, blogging….eventually it might get old for us, but for now, I still find a little stress release from it. And when I forget something, I know right where to search to find the answer 🙂

  4. “One big discovery I made from writing a blog is that I really LOVE writing! I’m not exceptionally good at writing, I’m not a ‘writer’ after all.” What you perceive as your lack of skill you more than make up with enthusiasm! Even when you write about the not so great stuff. Congrats amiga on your 500th post! (In case you missed it this is me shooting of fireworks and singing Salomas in your honor! After all it is Panama. 🙂 )

  5. Congratulations, Holly! I have 20 more posts to go to reach 500. It’s hard to believe we’ve come this far. I have a few questions for you. First, how do you send private messages to other bloggers? I don’t post all my comments because some have asked me to keep them private. Second, when you receive a nasty comment, do you publish it? I seldom receive off the wall comments, but when I do, sometimes it’s kind of fun to respond to them and ask why they feel that way. Third, it’s not a question, but the best thing about your writing is that you are REAL and you write from your heart. That’s a talent that not many people have. Sometimes I labor over the right words, and it’s frustrating. But, you can speak from within and express your loves, your worries, and your fears straight from a compassionate place within you. I love that about you. You make everyone feel special. Now, we really have to meet one of these days. Although, I know when we meet that there won’t be any surprises because you are who you are in your blog…love that!

    • Thanks Deb!!! Your right, I’m really looking forward to meeting you and Ron! Your always so encouraging and make me feel so good….thanks for that! And to answer your questions….I often can send a private emails because the email address is normally on the comment down on the bottom . I don’t get a ton of yucky comments , but when I do, I usually like to just go into my comments section on my dashboard and push that little Delete button! It just makes me happy to send it out to space and let it gooooooo!! Hah! I am sooooooo confrontation averse I don’t normally want to even respond to people like that! Ugh! I gotta tell you, having you say that you can sense that I am very Genuine in my blog posts makes me unbelievably happy because I strive to be who I am and to portray my true self in all that I do in my life. I’ve had a lot of people in my life in the past who were less than genuine and I realize that In order to have genuinely rewarding relationships in this life you have to be willing to put the ‘real’ YOU out there! And seriously, you get back what you put out, right? I’ve learned that and Look at all the amazing people who come my way as a result!! I adore you and the interactions we have may be only online, but they mean so much to me and I know one day when we finally meet in real life its gonna feel like seeing an old friend who I haven’t seen in forever!!! Hah!

      • You are right, Holly! Hey, maybe we can have Kris and Joel come to housesit again and we can make a trip to Panama. Or, we could swap houses with them for a week or two. Hmmm…I like that idea. We are like blog sisters now, tied together through our blogs. 🙂 Thanks for the answer as to how to send a private message.

      • Deb!!! YES!! That is the best idea EVER!!!! Kris & Joel will totally be up for that!! We would have so much fun! I can’t really imagine you guys staying in David, a big city, but its a quick drive up here…we can hike and pic nic and maybe even take a weekend to Boca Chica or Las Lajas or drive over to Bocas Del Torro for a night or two….Ohhhhhh thats something to look forward to!!!

  6. Woo hoo – you are a blogging goddess 🙂 I’ll just add to the chorus – I love the way you’ve made your blog a reflection of yourself and what you’re experiencing and feeling as an expat – the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly. It’s all part of the total experience!

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